Immigrants are not commodities. Tell Essex County to storp treating the people in their custody like items on a balance sheet. Tell them to stop profiting from immigration detention
For years, ICE has been using Essex County and the private for-profit company Community Education Centers (CEC) to detain 1250 immigrants in the Essex County Jail and the neighboring privately run Delaney Hall.
It is not a coincidence that CEC has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Essex County politicians or that one of its primary lobbyists was Chris Christie or that Christie’s close friend and ally, Bill Palatucci who until recently was a Sr. VP for CEC.
Since its signing, Essex County officials have been celebrating the new contract because it raises revenues and despite a claim that the revenue will help lower property taxes, the property taxes in Essex County have continued to go up every year.
This contract incarcerates long time Essex county residents with significant ties to the community and split apart local Essex county families. Just over 23% of Essex County’s population is foreign born, according to the most recent data from the US Census Bureau. Of this population, 71% have been in this country since before 2000 and 54% are not yet US Citizens.
We the undersigned oppose the new ICE Contract in Essex County. The Essex County Freeholders are treating immigrants as commodities, by trading their liberty for increased revenue for the county and wash their hands of any responsibility for oversight of the Essex County Jail. However, credible complaints about inhumane conditions in the jail persist as well as inadequate access to clergy, family and lawyers.
We the undersigned demand that the Essex County Freeholders revoke the contract with ICE and implement a community oversight board to work toward immediately improving conditions at the jail for immigrant detainees so as to include:
· Visiting hours that include evenings and weekends
· Contact visits for family members
· No restrictions on visits, phone calls, and other contact with lawyers and clergy
· Adequate mental and physical health care
· Healthy food that complies with dietary restrictions and religious observances
· Unrestricted access to communal religious services
· Regular outdoor recreation free from exposure to hazardous environmental conditions